Considering the pervasiveness of smartphones, the concept of “technology in the classroom” isn’t without controversy. The jury is still out on whether or not kids should be allowed to or even encouraged to bring their phones to class.
However, research does indicate that when teachers use technology in fresh and innovative ways in the classroom, it’s actually quite beneficial. Giving lower-income students access to the technology they might not have at home helps bridge the achievement gap, noted one Stanford study. Furthermore, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, integrating technology into a lesson plan keeps students engaged and on task. Here are five creative ways teachers can incorporate technology into the classroom in a way that students will connect with and enjoy.
Have Students Post Their Creative Writing Assignments or Essays in Personal Blogs
Why not set up personal blogs for each student, and teach them how to post their essays and writings? They’ll be more apt to spend more time and effort on their writings if they know others will be reading them, they’ll be able to receive input and field questions on their work, and they’ll learn a valuable skill: how to use a blogging site like WordPress. Teachers can use privacy settings to limit access to blogs to those who are approved to view them (classmates, teachers, students’ relatives, etc.)
Enter Into A Skype Relationship
What better way to learn about life in another city, state, or country than by talking to people of the same age who live there? What better way to question experts such as museum curators, zoologists, authors, bankers, chefs, etc. than a question-and-answer session. Thanks to Skype, the world is a much smaller place and educators can create virtual field trips virtually anywhere to allow students to ask questions and challenge their assumptions.
Use Online Gaming Resources
Students of all ages like to play games. There are myriad online educational games (spelling, economics, marketing, etc.) you can set up in class and allow students to access via smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop connected to a Promethean board. Or, encourage them to play a game they’re probably already familiar with – Minecraft. There’s a Minecraft-inspired teaching game called Mindcraftedu.
Create a Class Web Page
If technology is one of the subjects you’re trying to teach, learning is doing! Collaborate on a classroom web page or website that includes editorial or advice columns, photos, homework updates, etc. Check out WordPress and Google Sites for easy-to-use, novice-friendly templates to help you get started. Assign different students different tasks each week related to keeping your website current. They’ll be learning real-world skills but they’ll be having so much fun they may not realize they’re learning!
Make Your Lessons Crowd-Pleasers!
As a teacher, you probably spend quite a bit of time standing in front of the class, lecturing, asking questions, and then calling on individuals to answer. That’s a staple of teaching! However, your students (and you) would probably welcome a change of pace occasionally. Why not incorporate engaging, entertaining game-show formats into your lessons? There are online templates teachers can use to create Family Feud, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune style games. The opportunity to compete against their classmates will definitely keep kids engaged. To amp up the excitement factor further, consider awarding prizes for the winning teams or contestants!
Technology is here to stay and will continue to evolve and open up new opportunities for educators who are willing to think outside the box. Even those pervasive cell phones could be powerful classroom learning tools – if teachers find a way to set and enforce boundaries, of course. It’s an exciting time to be a student – and a teacher!